Exeter were tipped as a team in transition this season but have already blown both Saracens and Sale away at Sandy Park and will look to do the same to Bristol on Sunday.
The Chiefs lost no fewer than four British & Irish Lions over the summer but Rob Baxter and his staff’s work in the background is paying off with an exciting new team emerging.
They have already beaten Bristol this term, and in style, triumphing 75-0 in the Premiership Rugby Cup. However, that is a different tournament and the Bears have matched their hosts’ record of two wins and a defeat to date.
Pat Lam’s side lost 23-21 to Harlequins last time out and have also been on the wrong end of the result in the pair’s last four meetings in all competitions.
Exeter have made a habit of rotating this season and make five changes for Sunday’s match. They include an all-new front row of Wallaby star Scott Sio, skipper Jack Yeandle and tighthead Ehren Painter.
Ross Vintcent comes in at number eight, while Olly Woodburn makes his first appearance of the season on the bench.
Bristol’s Sam Grahamslaw will make his Premiership debut as the Bears also make five changes.
Hooker Will Capon and tighthead George Kloska join Grahamslaw in the front row, while Josh Caulfield starts at lock and Kieran Marmion replaces Harry Randall at scrum-half.
It may also be worth keeping an eye on Bristol’s reserve hooker Harry Thacker, who is the only player to touch down in all three of his Premiership appearances this season.
Exeter -10.5 Handicap 21/20
Exeter have been frightening at home, beating Saracens 65-10 and Sale 43-0. In fact, they ran Quins close in their sole away trip as they went down 22-14.
Baxter’s new-look side loves to counter-attack, with Woodburn only likely to add to that ability and they could get chances, with Bristol having kicked the ball away more than any other team in the division.
The weather looks set to clear up on Sunday and the running conditions should suit the home side at Sandy Park.
Total Points – Over 49.5 Points @ 20/21
There have been 75 and 43 points in Exeter’s two home games this season, while Bristol’s sole away match was a 33-27 win at Northampton.
While Exeter won this fixture last season 22-21, four of the last five meetings in all competitions have seen 55 or more points, so over 49.5 points is something to look for, while Exeter to score over 31.5 points is attractive at 6/5.
Exeter understandably lead the match betting at 2/7, with a tie at 28/1 and the Bears available at 10/3.
The hosts won last season’s fixture 22-21, so a repeat winning margin of 1-5 points is 13/2, although current form hints that they could win by 12 or more at 11/10.
Rugby Union betting tips – with Insights